Worm is a blister of a film — pent up anger and tension eagerly waiting to burst. The audience anticipates the release — and when it comes, it’s more gratifying than any blockbuster you’ll see this summer.
Not something I was expecting from a film such as this. Formally experimental, black and white, ugly — Worm is all of these things, but also so much more. I came into Worm expecting to be challenged or confronted — simply because that’s what I’ve come to expect from independent, black and white experimental films. Worm manages to do something I haven’t really seen since the original Clerks — it’s bold, it tries something new, and it’s completely on the audience’s side. It’s refreshing, exhilarating, and very, very entertaining.
The film is set up as one long, 90 minute take. The perspective is a GoPro camera on a steady rig pointing directly at the main character, Worm. The effect is Worm’s head and upper body are the only things that are un-moving, as the world churns and spins disorientingly around him. When I heard this premise, I reacted how many of you would — oh boy a poncy art film made to show off the talent of some douche bag brooding young artist, oh and he’s the writer, director and star, this’ll be good [eye roll]. What I ended up getting from Worm was a rewarding story told in an engaging fashion.
The plot is every bit as ambitious as its experimental style. It’s a southern fried neo-noir encompassing homicide, cover-ups, thieves, crooked cops and hostages — Worm’s got it all, baby. The story centers (literally) around a petty small town criminal (nicknamed Worm, natch) who gets caught up in a complex murder conspiracy. He ends up fighting the cops, other criminals, his friends, and even people he loves for his life and for his family.
The fashion in which the film is shot lends itself heavily to the character-focused, suspenseful, and winding story. In a way it somewhat validates the plot, which would not have worked if filmed any other way. It keeps the audience firmly identifying with, and rooting for, its main character. We exult in his ups, we cringe at his downs. We gasp when someone sneaks up and gets the drop on Worm, because we are Worm. And this is where the film truly succeeds.
The performance by Andrew Bowser (writer/director) as Worm is absolutely incredible. For 90 straight minutes he never breaks character or looks at the camera unintentionally. He never misses a beat while still exuding the appropriate amount of pathos to get the audience on his side. It’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in an independent film and honestly Mr. Bowser deserves an Oscar — or at the very least an Independent Spirit Award.
The filmmakers wanted to try something different, they gambled and it paid off in spades. Worm is the type of film that reminds me of what I found so appealing about independent cinema when I was 13. It’s gritty, punk rock, high energy, incredibly rewarding and like nothing you’ve ever seen or ever will see again. Now, I ask you, what more could you possible want from a film?